In case you missed it, there was a brief romance between thyroid surgeons and robots. Thyroid surgeons, itching to join the crowds migrating to robot-assisted surgery, came up with the idea to use the robot to perform thyroidectomies.
It appears that the push began in Korea, and to add some pizzazz to the mix, a trans-axillary approach to avoid a scar in the neck was incorporated. As is often the case, the initial results were favorable.
Then reality set in.
The early euphoria gave way to the revelation that American patients were larger and more difficult to operate on than patients in Korea. But randomized trials of selected patients were suggested.
A paper from Wayne State in Detroit found complications in 4 (22%) of 18 cases—3 temporary vocal cord pareses and a post-operative hematoma that required re-operation. Hospital stay was a median of 2 days.
More than 90% of conventional thyroidectomy patients are done as same day surgeries.
After receiving 13 reports of complications, Intuitive Surgical, the company that manufactures the robot, decided it could no longer support the use of its robot for thyroid surgery.